Saturday, December 31, 2011


I don't know what you have planned for New Year's Eve tonight, but in this household the buzz is all about the new iCarly coming on. I promised the kids if they cleaned their rooms they could stay up until 8:00 to watch it. You would've thought I told them we were going to watch the ball drop in Time Square. Same level of excitement around here. :) I thought I would share the kids resolutions with you.

         Sarah plans to exercise more, read more and take better care of her teeth. (You know she did NOT get the exercise thing from me.)
 Eli wants to make his AR score even higher and brush his teeth more. (Thanks Sid the Science Kid, for teaching us how important it is to take care of our teeth.)

                                         I asked Kate what her goals are and she did this......

When I think about the year 2011 it is the first one I can remember, maybe since I got married that was pretty uneventful. At least by our standards. For a while it seemed that every year held job changes, moves, babies or all kinds of big life stuff. This year, we enjoyed a kind of  "settled" existence that brought lots of new memories, challenges and fun times. 

We had some new stuff~

* We hosted our first open house for the church at Easter
* Eli played t-ball on the most awesome t-ball team in town
* I finished my first year as a dance teacher and had the chance to dance with Sarah
* I got a job teaching theatre and that was something VERY NEW!
*Kate got her first manicure. :)

We had some milestone stuff~

*Josh and I celebrated 10 years of marriage
* Our niece, Layla, was born
* Kate started pre-k

We had some fun times~
* Our kids have reached ages where things like bowling and the beach and going to the movies has become really fun!
* I had an awesome girls weekend getaway
*Josh got to play golf in Pensacola with his buddy, Matt
* We went to our first FSU game as a family and had tons of fun and ate lots of food
* Luke and Lyla got to spend the night at Aunty Em's all by themselves!
* The kids have had the opportunity to spend lots of time with the grandparents and be extra spoiled!
*Josh and I had an anniversary getaway that was heavenly!

We had some great victories~

*We saw our two brothers return safe from Afghanistan
* Sarah and Eli were both named Dazzling Dolphins in their grades for the year
* Our church began a children's church
* I was able to avoid surgery by making some big changes to my diet (something I've got to start doing better at again!)
* We payed off an $8,000 student loan in 10 months. 

Yes, we did. And when I think back on 2011 that is truly the greatest victory. Not just for financial reasons, but because it overshadowed everything that happened in 2011. We were in a very difficult situation trying to pay that off and it meant that there were some experiences and opportunities this last year that had to be sacrificed. And it turned out to be the greatest thing for us. We do not use credit cards so when we were told we had to make almost $700 payments every month, I cannot even tell you the stress that hit this house. It was a suffocating, strangling kind of stress. There was panic and desperation. I try not to talk about money. I was taught it is not polite. But I just can't let this year go by without giving God the glory He is due, because truly I can't explain how we ended this year on our feet without Him. Every month, that payment got  made. We were blessed that there were many times Josh was able to work with his Dad and make some extra money. We thought it would be paid off in May, but then we got notice that the company had misfigured and we owed another $700. At that point we were planning to go on a  cruise to celebrate our anniversary and we knew that was out the window. We figured any plans for the rest of the summer were out the window. But, then what do you know? I randomly got offered a job teaching summer theatre classes and not only would it cover that last payment, but we would have enough to still do our weekend trip. Those months really became a blessing as we saw God work, but also realized how much better stewards we could be of our money if we were able to make those payments. What else could we be doing with that money for God's glory? God began to do a work in my heart about what is truly necessary in our lives and what are unnecessary luxuries that we don't even really miss. 

I can say that this year has been so full of blessings. It has been a year for me personally of tough lessons. Of asking God to show me my heart and Him doing just that. I haven't always liked what I've seen. There's a lot of work to be done. I've also been reminded of a side of me I had forgotten. The side that loves to be creative. It has been a fun time for Josh and I to work on projects together and pray over our church together.  But I will forever remember 2011 as a year of having my eyes opened. Opened to possibilities and new adventures. Opened to need and heartache around me. Opened to the reality that the world does not revolve around me and that is a GOOD thing. 

I have my normal resolutions. Eat healthier, lose my weight I've found again, keep my house clean. But this year, I have such greater resolutions. I resolve that I will be a more caring, encouraging wife. I resolve that I will make my home a place of love and a refuge for people who might need it.  I resolve that there will be more of Him and less of me. I resolve that I will care more about others and be more thoughtful towards them. I resolve that instead of living for moments of quiet and rest, I will live for moments when God can use me to bless someone else. Mostly, I resolve to fall more in love with Him and learn to lean on His strength. I resolve that in whatever 2012 brings, I will remember where my joy and peace come from. I resolve to speak with the same passion and conviction of Paul when he said, 

" I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
                                  ~Philippians 4:12-13

We pray that this year, no matter what your circumstances you will know the contentment and peace of Jesus! And that you will have lots of laughter, someone to hold your hand, and that you only look back if it makes you smile! Oh, and good reading and healthy teeth, too!  :)

                    HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE FIDLERS!!!
And a special congratulations to my cousin Drew who is getting married today and our friends Matt and Cortnee who are welcoming their baby, Zhane, today!! What a way to start off the new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Creating Christmas

Well y'all, I don't know what happened this year, but the month of December turned into a marathon of parties, baking, decorating, picture taking, play directing, set building, dancing,shopping, wrapping, visiting, and helping a friend move. I feel like I'm entering the last lap and pretty soon somebody will be waiting with a gatorade and a hug. Anybody else there? I shopped for 12 hours yesterday and decided that if you've been to 13 Christmas parties (yes, that is for real, I'm not even kidding) that is the way to feel justified in eating 1 (or 10) more pieces of candy. I will hit the highlights.

Our month started with children's theater production I was directing. I've done things like this before, but always on a volunteer basis. I got paid to do this, so I felt a little bit of pressure for it to actually be acceptable for public viewing. I won't lie. It was rough. Our entire first week of December went to building a set and everyday practices. Sometimes together. I got a touch of the stomach bug and when we were at practice and Josh was drilling in the wings, kids were forgetting their lines and Eli was asking me "How do you spell January?"  I wanted to cry. And I actually did go home that Wednesday night, ask somebody to take my class at church and laid on the couch and cried. Then I felt better. Sometimes you just need a good cry and a nap. Anyway, it turned out great. I have the most talented group of kids. I really do. They totally came through for me. We did 3 shows and they just got better all day. During the 2nd show we had a prop malfunction. We used our futon to double as Scrooge's bed and a couch. In a very serious scene as we learn that little Suzy Loo Hoo died two of the girls sat down on the futon and BAM! It hadn't clicked into place and they went flying back, legs in the air. It was HILARIOUS! Y'all, I know I was just deliriously exhausted by that point but I could not stop laughing. One of my girls asked, "Mrs. Emily, do you need to step outside for a minute?"  Oh, my gracious! I was in the wings mouthing "Make it look like your crying!" And they totally did and it was great. I just have to show y'all the pics of the bookcase and desk I found on google and the ones Josh built. He is amazing.

Here's a pic of our set
Josh even built the walls. He made that desk from the girls old dresser. He just cut it in half and built the middle. I picked out the colors and when I asked the guy at Wal-Mart to mix them he said, "You're not using them in the same room are you?" Ha! Gotta love being Seussy!! 

Some of my other fun creations this month included these for teacher gifts. I got the kid's teachers other gifts, but Kate has 5 teachers in her pre-k, so I had to get creative! Okay, really I just found this on Pinterest and pretended to be creative. :)
The girls and I had lots of fun making this candy......We used mint kisses and to me they kind of tasted like Thin Mints! 
The crowning glory of my Christmas creation was the veggie tree. Josh actually ended up doing most of it. Go figure. :)   I couldn't find the cone I needed for it so he had to build one out of styrofoam cups. Guess that seemed like a piece of cake after the desk. :)  I was super proud of it. Of course it was for Eli's class and I went to his party last time, so I helped Josh take it to the classroom and then left for Sarah's party. I made pb and j's for it. God likes to keep me humble. Can't get too big of a head about pb and j's. :)
I got this pic as evidence that there was one year I was that mom. Because next year I'm totally sending chips. :)

I shared these pics because I was thinking about the marathon I feel like I've been running and I realized it's because I'm officially a mom and really feel the need to "create" Christmas. I've wanted events and traditions and things that would make it feel like Christmas for my family. As I contemplated laying in the aisle and sucking my thumb in the 11th hour of shopping yesterday, I thought about Mary and the life that God created in her. I thought about the baby in a manger. I thought about telling that story to my church kids and setting up the nativity scene and saying, "This was the first Christmas."  And the realization that I can bake and shop and wrap and decorate until my arms fall off, but I can't create anything greater than what God created on that first Christmas. How I pray that I will let go of the pressure to have the "best" Christmas.

*No matter how beautiful my tree is (and y'all, I love our little tree, but beauty is not the word for it :), there will never be a better gathering place than the manger.(Luke 2:16)

* No matter what recipes I find on Pinterest, Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35)

* No matter what Christmas cards I send, they will never hold a message as great as the one that Jesus had arrived! (Luke 2:9-10)

* No matter how much I decorate, my house will never shine like the star God gave. (Matthew 2:2)

* No matter what gift I buy, the greatest gift ever given was when Jesus came as Immanuel, God With Us. (Matthew 1:23)

Father, thank you for the greatest gift ever! Please remind us in this season that you are God with us. In the midst of busyness, fun, parties, stress, heartache, frustration, you are there through it all. You created Christmas when you came to this earth and became a personal Savior. Thank you for being my Savior. I pray that because you created Christmas, I will also allow you to create a new heart in me. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

O Christmas Tree.....

It's official. As of the 11th day of December there is no Christmas tree in the Fidler home. All of the other decorations are out. The stockings are hung. There is an empty space waiting for a tree. And yet....there is no tree. You see, we planned to get our tree yesterday. I ran to the Pig to get some stuff to make Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. Yes, they are as awesome as they sound. So anyway, I observed during that trip that the trees at the Pig weren't looking so hot. But, I had to get home and make brownies so I didn't think much about it. We got ready to go to a party at T and Dandy's house and before we knew it we had partied until dark. I suggested we look somewhere in PC for our tree due to the sad state of the ones I saw earlier in the day. Josh said we would just go to the Pig. So, we did. What followed was a Fidler Fiasco of epic proportions. 

First, Kate fell asleep on the way.....

Then, we had Sarah who had just suffered a foot injury on T's exercise bike. She may or may not be a tad bit dramatic, but she told us she could not walk.
Eli was beyond super hyper and scaring people in the parking lot...
I wanted this to be a special family moment to remember for years to come. Well......we'll remember it.....

It was cold. We were freezing. Kate wouldn't wake up. Eli wouldn't chill out. Sarah was pointing at trees from the shopping cart. Eli told us to pick the tallest one and lets go! Josh decided none of the trees looked very good. I didn't say I told him so. Okay, maybe I did.

A highlight was getting this awesome pic of me and the kids. They just LOVE taking pics with me, can't ya tell? (Not everybody has a pic in the Christmas album that includes a shopping cart at the Pig. Just sayin')
We left there and headed to our fancy new Dollar General Market. No trees! From there we went to Family Dollar. Ugly trees! Oh who am I kidding? Like I can really be picky. I should probably have just gotten one of the half dead ones to start with. That's how it would look after 2 days in my house.

In other "I'm so awesome" news, my peppermint wreath totally melted and has been covered in bees. Yes, y'all, bees. I was going to throw it away and there were two bees having the time of their life on my peppermints. The next day I found one dead. I can't figure out if it got stuck, froze to death or died from a sugar overdose. Nothing adds to the beauty of a melted candy wreath like dead insects. 
Add to that the fact that Daisy knocked the gingerbread house down and destroyed it and I am really thinking we need to quit while we're ahead......

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Little Like Christmas....

Did y'all know it is December? Apparently there are people who have trees decorated, lights hung on the house, and presents wrapped and ready. I'm pretty sure I don't even have to tell you I'm not one of those people. What do I have? One present, a snowflake throw on the couch and a wreathe hanging outside. And let me tell y'all about this wreathe. It was supposed to be THIS wreathe. Well, I got all of the stuff and put Kate to work helping me unwrap peppermints. We hot glued that baby together. It was far from perfect, but if you didn't look too close it was okay. Would you believe that the next day IT MELTED! Am I the only one too clueless to not realize it probably shouldn't go outside? Oh well. It was good while it lasted. All 22 hours.

We decided to wait and get our tree next weekend because we have had so much going on and we wanted to wait until we could make it a fun, family outing. The truth is that the theater group is performing next Friday night and I am at the point now where I am in the zone. It's mostly all I can think about. Three of my dance classes performed today at a breakfast with Santa (who, by the way, my Mom overheard saying he "had to go" as soon as we got there) and now that that is over, I feel like if I can just make it through next week I will be okay. Any of you ever feel that way? I actually woke up at 3 am last Monday morning completely stressed out about the craziest stuff. I finally prayed enough and realized just how crazy it was and I can honestly say I have felt so much better and so not as stressed. I had even planned to spend today stressed out and working on props and stuff. You know it is bad when you plan to be stressed. But, I decided I did all I could last week and  this whole next week will be devoted to it, so, I enjoyed the day.

I was sooo proud of my girls who danced. They had two weeks to learn their dances and they did fabulous. I don't have any pics, but my Mom got some.  So, after all the dancing we went out to eat. We ate at a little burger place downtown and sat outside. It was 70 degrees. It didn't feel like Christmas and I was okay with that. I soaked up the rays while looking at the downtown decorations. I could have sat there all day. Seriously, I really could have. I don't know about y'all, but I'm good as long as I keep going. Once I sit down, I'm done! I finally dragged myself home. 

My Mom gave the kids a gingerbread house kit. That is something I usually wait until closer to Christmas to do, but since we had a few hours before the Christmas parade I decided we should make the most of them. The kids had a blast. I learned last year at Eli's class party that you need a box or something to hold the house up. I found a box of bow tie pasta I thought would work and came up with my own cheesy broccoli and carrot pasta. It served a great double purpose. :)
 They were so proud of themselves for knowing how to put the frosting in this thing. They saw it on Cake Boss.

 This is blurry because it is an action shot. Eli thought it was fun to throw the candy and see if it would stick.
These girls had a plan.

                                            My first favorite Christmas memory of 2011.

We also made it to the parade tonight. All 15 minutes of it. You think I'm kidding don't you? I'm not. What can I say, we're a small town. :)  But it was perfect weather and a good time.

                                                                It was a little loud....
Kate and Eli wouldn't wear their Santa hats so Sarah asked me if I would. I really did NOT want to wear one, but I know in the next few years my babygirl will be too old and too cool for things like wearing Santa hats. So I wore it. And I thought about how quickly we go from the phase of life when our parents embarrass us to the phase when our kids do. And I am happy I have this picture and this story for the day when I ask Sarah to do something with me and she says, "Mom, that is SO embarrassing!!"   :)

What is going on at your house this weekend that feels like Christmas???

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, It Applies To You

Kate came home from school excitedly telling me about Mrs. B's paddle. "It's hard" she told me, with a smile on her face. I nodded and smiled for a second until a lightbulb came on and I looked at Josh. He gave me the look that says, yes, it is what you are thinking. "Did you get paddled?" I asked incredulously. It wasn't registering. It couldn't be real. Surely this was not for real. She must have seen someone else get paddled. She put her head down with a look of shame and Josh confirmed it. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I don't pretend that any of my kids are perfect saints, but Kate has had a smiley face everyday since school started. A paddling was a far fall. Didn't we at least get a frowny face warning? I just stared at Josh, my jaw hanging. He explained to me that when he went to pick Kate up he told her to pick her coat up off the floor. She wouldn't do it. She set her heels in and gave him what we've termed "the Kate Face". That went on for a few minutes until her teacher told her to pick it up and she wouldn't listen to her either. She then took Kate into her office for a talking to. Still didn't work. Mrs. B told Josh that since he was there he could handle the situation, but because it was school and there were so many people around that it might be better if she did.

I won't lie. I cried. All I could think was that it was a good thing I wasn't there. At first I didn't know how I felt about it. I had JUST had a conversation with someone a few days earlier about how I don't mind other people disciplining my kids, but I prefer that they let me do the spanking. At some point Josh said, "We signed the paper saying our kids could be paddled...." and I found myself thinking, 'Yeah, but I never thought they would be!!' And at that moment a truth that God has been dealing with me a great deal about came to life. Basically what I was saying was that I understand the need for consequences, I just don't expect them to apply to me.

I'm not sure why I would struggle with that. Consequences have always applied for me. I was always the kid who was good 99% of the time, but the one time I talked in class I got caught. My very first speeding ticket was in a small town and instead of giving a terrified 18 year old girl a warning, they TOOK MY LICENSE and I balanced the town's budget that year. The second, and only other ticket I've gotten, was because of an expired license plate that I couldn't fix because the bank didn't have the official title to the jeep or something crazy like that. I ended up having to take 3 kids under the age of six to court. To court, y'all!!! Anyway, what I'm saying is, I've experienced some consequences in my day. But I can honestly tell you that it is 50 trillion times worse to see your kids suffer negative consequences. You know that saying, "This is gonna hurt me more than you"? It is for real. It hurts my heart to discipline my kids. To take things away from them or keep them from doing things they want to do.

I am blessed. For the most part my kids are very well behaved. Except for when they're getting paddled at school. :) It is not often I have to discipline them That hasn't always been true. Anyone who experienced the toddlerhood of Sarah Beth Fidler knows that she put the strong will in the strong willed child. There were days I was pretty sure all I did was get on to her. There were days my 3 year old was physically stronger than me. If you don't believe that can be possible try putting one in a car seat while they arch their back. There were days other people gave me the "I'm so sorry for you" look. But we made it, and Sarah makes me proud every second of her life. She still has a strong will, but it has been molded. She still has to deal with some consequences like not having friends over if she hasn't cleaned her room, but she has come a long way. And she taught me something very important. There are no "Good kids" or "Bad kids". The Bible tells us we are all born with a sinful nature and that just makes us human. We all make good decisions and bad decisions. We all have to face consequences to teach us to make more good decisions than bad ones.

I've said for a while now that Kate was going to be rotten. She is my baby and I will admit that I am way more laid back with her. Mostly out of exhaustion. :)  Not really. Her strong will has always manifested itself differently than Sarah's and it usually shows up with what she won't do, as opposed to what she will. I guess this week was just the wake up call I needed that I'm not doing her any favors if I let her avoid consequences. I have a responsibility to teach each of my children that it doesn't matter if you're cute, it doesn't matter if you're the preacher's kid, and it doesn't matter if it makes your Mama cry. If you mess up, you've got to face the music. Yes, even at the age of 4. Especially at the age of 4. I realized early on with Sarah that if we didn't let her know who the boss was when she was 2, she would for sure be the boss when she is 16. And that was not happening!!

Unfortunately, the lesson of reaping what you sow is not limited to childhood. I am ashamed of the times I have whined to God and said, "But I'm a preacher's wife! I do this and I do that! I've always tried to do the right thing."  I then usually turn to pointing out other people who haven't faced the same consequences even if  they've deserved them. (Turns out I'm rotten, too.) God is not impressed with this. He always reminds me of Hebrews 12:10. "They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness."

It's for my good? Yep. You mean I can't share in God's holiness if I always get my way and never have to face the consequences of anything I do? Nope. You see, I am a recipient of so much more mercy than I could ever deserve. That's the point. Mercy is God NOT giving us what we deserve. As in, hell. The truth is,  He has shown even more mercy than that. There are plenty of things I've done that I haven't paid the full consequences of. But for the times when I've had to deal with the messes I've made, it was good. It was for my good. Because He loves me with a true love that won't leave me where I am. He loves me in a way that cares more about the person I become than my temporary happiness. He loves me enough to discipline me, even if it hurts Him more than it hurts me.

Yes, I've known grace and mercy. But the rules still apply to me. And to each of us. And it's a good thing.